Study: Utah is best at putting foster kids in safe homes

Mar 29, 2023, 12:45 PM

SALT LAKE CITYA study published in March 2023 by the American Enterprise Institute looks nationally at foster care and placing children in safe, stable homes, among other factors. Utah is ranked number one on that list. 

John Thill has seen this play out in his job working with Utah Foster Care as a lead foster adoptive consultant recruiting foster families for part of Utah.

“Many are thinking, I don’t know if I can do this, I don’t know if I have the heart for it, but I would be able to tell you that I think you do, and you might be surprised of all the great you can do,” Thill said.

He also knows it firsthand having cared for 67 foster kids over the years. 

The photos hung on his wall make up his family tree.

“We adopted 19 kids; 17 of those have been adopted through foster care, and all but one of the children who were adopted through foster care were adopted with their siblings,” Thill said.

With kids ranging from 4 years old to 30 years old, Thill is part of the story that paints a bigger picture. 

In this AEI study, foster care entries between Oct. 2014 and March 2018 were followed, along with 2021 data. 

Utah claimed the number one spot in the nation for placing foster children in safe, stable homes through reunification, adoption, guardianship or living with relatives in a certain timeframe.

Kevin Jackson, assistant director for the Division of Child and Family Services, said the study reveals a statewide win.

“It’s really more about a celebration of the child welfare system,” Jackson said.

He said while this is a huge accomplishment for the state, there is still a lot of work to do. In 2022, he said they had 9,695 confirmed victims of abuse or neglect. Over 3,600 kids were served in some capacity of foster care.

They say the goal is to reunite a child with their biological family, if safe to do so.

Currently, he said around 2,000 kids are being cared for in the foster care system. 

There is a need for more foster families.  

“Helping ensure that all Utahns have a fair and equitable opportunity to just live safe and healthy lives,” Jackson said.

Thill said while he and his wife have positively impacted children who come into their home, so have the children positively impacted their lives.

“Really to dispel a lot of myths that may be out there about foster children because they really are just children in foster care. The majority of them are in care because of things imposed on them. You know, nobody asked to be in foster care,” Thill said. “Take a chance.” 

To learn more, you are encouraged to reach out to Utah Foster Care or DCFS.

KSL 5 TV Live

Local News

emergency lights...

Mark Jones

Man taken into custody for alleged assaults at Cathedral of the Madeleine

A 31-year-old man was arrested Sunday after he allegedly began assaulting random people duing Sunday service at the Cathedral of the Madeleine.

7 hours ago

Taylorsville police said Sunday a 35-year-old man drowned in the swimming pool of an apartment comp...

Mark Jones

Man dies after drowning in swimming pool at Taylorsville apartment complex

Taylorsville police said a 35-year-old male drowned Sunday.

8 hours ago


Collin Leonard, KSL.com

Layton man charged with killing his father now charged with threatening puppy owner

A Layton man charged this month with brutally killing his father now faces an additional criminal charge after police say he threatened to kill a man selling puppies the day before his father was found dead.

9 hours ago

A paraglider was injured and taken to the hospital after crashing in Washington County on Sunday, M...

Mary Culbertson

Paraglider injured after crashing in Washington County

A paraglider was injured after crashing near Blue Springs Reservoir in Washington County.

14 hours ago

FILE - Police lights (Ray Boone, KSL TV)...

Mary Culbertson

Man shot, killed in Salt Lake City homicide

One man is dead after he was shot in a Glendale neighborhood. Police are investigating the shooting as a homicide.

17 hours ago

A large fire at a historic church building in downtown Salt Lake required a three-alarm response fr...

Mary Culbertson, Brianna Chavez and Shelby Lofton

Historic church burns in downtown Salt Lake City

A large fire at a historic church building, the Wells Ward meetinghouse, caused a four-alarm response from Salt Lake Fire Department.

19 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

Electrician repairing ceiling fan with lamps indoors...

Lighting Design

Stay cool this summer with ceiling fans

When used correctly, ceiling fans help circulate cool and warm air. They can also help you save on utilities.

Side view at diverse group of children sitting in row at school classroom and using laptops...

PC Laptops

5 Internet Safety Tips for Kids

Read these tips about internet safety for kids so that your children can use this tool for learning and discovery in positive ways.

Women hold card for scanning key card to access Photocopier Security system concept...

Les Olson

Why Printer Security Should Be Top of Mind for Your Business

Connected printers have vulnerable endpoints that are an easy target for cyber thieves. Protect your business with these tips.

Modern chandelier hanging from a white slanted ceiling with windows in the backgruond...

Lighting Design

Light Up Your Home With These Top Lighting Trends for 2024

Check out the latest lighting design trends for 2024 and tips on how you can incorporate them into your home.

Technician woman fixing hardware of desktop computer. Close up....

PC Laptops

Tips for Hassle-Free Computer Repairs

Experiencing a glitch in your computer can be frustrating, but with these tips you can have your computer repaired without the stress.

Close up of finger on keyboard button with number 11 logo...

PC Laptops

7 Reasons Why You Should Upgrade Your Laptop to Windows 11

Explore the benefits of upgrading to Windows 11 for a smoother, more secure, and feature-packed computing experience.

Study: Utah is best at putting foster kids in safe homes